Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Summer silliness

Sometimes Homer got it right ;)

Today I learned that a serving of ice cream is *much* bigger than I’d always thought?!?!   Lol. I’ve been trying to weigh food for better awareness, but I’ve been lax about ice cream.  Partially because it’s “half a cup”.  As the only thing I do in the kitchen is bake, I can eyeball half a cup fairly accurately.   And partially cause I care more about enjoying my ice cream than I do about losing weight ;)   Ice cream is a favourite summer treat and I’ll quite happily record 4x the serving size and f it ;)

But for whatever reason, today I measured.  And their half-cup must be in melted form!  Lol. A legit serving by weight was a larger amount than I would ever serve myself.  Win.  Or maybe not ;-P.  But I was amused either way ;)

Girls just wanna have fun

Posting on my phone so text only and likely questionable formatting 😂.  Will look at it after work tomorrow perhaps, but am pretty high after dance class tonight so figured I’d share ;)

So dance this week has been a riot.

Saturday was one of the 2h workshops.  Except that since my brain is fried from commuting (side note - if anyone who supports remote work needs an exceptional transformational change leader or someone to repair a broken team, give me a shout; I love my job, but I despise commuting)

Anyways - since brain was fried, for some reason I was convinced lesson started at 1:30.   Let’s note, it has *never* started at 1:30.  Sometimes 2:00, sometimes 1:00, but never 1:30.   Also, my phone alarm went off exactly when it should’ve to tell me it was dance time, and somehow my brain went “it’s an hour until I have to leave” instead of “it’s an hour until class starts”.

Which means while I was 10 min early for the 1:30 class to allow time to change shoes and chit chat, I was, in-fact, 20 mins late for the *actual* start time.  And completely oblivious.  Those who know me irl will realize how disturbing this is.  Literally never in my life have I done that before.   Not happy.

But what was very cool?   First - when I came in late it was smiles and “Hi Lauren, glad you made it” - such a welcoming environment and so much fun with the women who’ve done a few of these together.  No grief whatsoever about being late or eyerolls or anything.  Just, “glad you’re here”.   Then secondly, those first 20 mins are usually the most important for me, because it’s where you learn all the steps of the routine in the right order, build them up, ask questions, etc.   I was caught up in less than 5 mins and didn’t have to hold anyone else back to do so.   A few months ago, I wouldn’t have had a hope in hell at that.  I needed every single slow motion repetition to be able to follow.  Now?  As soon as I knew the pattern, good to go.   Partially transferable skills for sure - years of memorizing courses and dressage tests means it’s not hard for me to follow and memorize a pattern, but more - I’m more comfortable w the footwork so I don’t have to break every piece down as much, and I’m slowly starting to feel how the flow works and the logical ‘if I do A, there’s a real good chance B is next’.  And for a complete beginner, that is awesome!   Also essentially the same win for two hobbies in the same week.  Maybe I should stop while I’m ahead?

Nah - next step - figure out how to do more than 3 things w my arms lol.  Arms are getting embarrassingly repetitive.   And still so very awkward.

So then tonight was the normal class, but it didn’t run like a normal class (aka instruction then practice then refine, rinse and repeat), instead it was more follow the leader dance.   Listen to the first few beats, figure out what style of dance fits (I’m horrible at this!   Alternately, I’m amazing creative at making theoretically inappropriate dances fit songs w off-beat rhythms ;), then follow the steps as called out/led by instructor. 

So this was mostly *fast* - which, not shockingly, is what I enjoy most - highly entertaining, and again served to get through to my little brain that while I still feel about as graceful as a toddler in a mud puddle, I have, in-fact, learned something.  Because a few months ago there’s no way I could’ve kept up, much less tried to add one of my very small repertoire of arm movements in.  Of the whole night, I think there was only one step I completely missed, although there were two or three that I wasn’t quite on beat lol;  that actually isn’t usually a problem for me but I was kinda in my own world lol which, while lovely, does not contribute to successful dance execution ;)

There was a photographer there today 😂. I might’ve actually been excited about since real pros can make even beginners look good, if only I weren’t literally wearing the baggiest most unflattering clothing I own to avoid sunburn pain *sigh*.  Fail.

So anyways - super high, super excited, and super bummed to have to commute again tomorrow :(.  But so very glad FB targeted ads connected me to the world of Social Ease Dance Studio.

Brilliance and Disaster

So after being so excited the other day at learning something, I crashed back pretty hard to Earth today.  I sent some writing exercises to my Spanish teacher.  They came back w a LOT of corrections lol.  Some were admittedly of the typo/laziness variety but others are definitely legit.  I made some comment to C about the amount of corrections and he responded w “yeah I know what that feels like” lol.  I’m sure you can imagine who’s usually the one editing his work.   

But actually this was incredibly motivational because A - I know how exponentially his writing has improved and the ego side of me says if he can do it, so can I *g* and B - the biggest learning curve he faced wasn’t technical writing, it was in knowing how to answer a question or present an argument effectively.   And *that* I can already do.  So just a ton of painful grammar and I’m set.

I’m just glad my Spanish teacher seems to find this mildly amusing and despite his insane schedule and our respective timezone differences, he seems very supportive of helping me attempt the impossible ;-P.   Which he doesn’t seem to think nearly as impossible as I do, but, well, he’s already fluent ;-P

Enough baby steps will eventually get you where you're going

So I was doing some Spanish drills of the multiple-choice variety the other day; and when I had my next lesson, my teacher asked me how it'd gone.   I said I had no idea lol.  Some of it seemed easy, and some of it I had no idea, so I picked what "sounded right" but couldn't tell you either why it was right or the other options were not.   Also, I had zero confidence I was correct, and less than zero by the end - which was also interesting in itself.

So we went through them; the ones I was confident on, were correct.  But what interested me was that the majority of the ones that "sounded right" were also correct.   Which means while I'm still a ways from fluent, I'm starting to internalize what it should be.  I have no confidence in those abilities because I'm the type who always wants to understand *why* something is the way it is, but I'm still considering it a step in the right direction.   I've been feeling stalled lately - the intermediate plateau is not fun.   Even less so when you self-taught the beginner levels and are now paying for vocabulary holes *g*.  So I'm actually really excited now at this "proof" that it's getting better...

Mini wins are important!

My new favourite mental-health recharge location

So sometime last summer Jill and I were chatting about silent retreats; I mentioned that I’d really love to go to one but only if it was non-religious (or at least participation not required) and had food I would enjoy.   Well that proved to be an impossible combination because while there were many for which belief in their religion was optional, there were none that had any food that would even slightly appeal to me (admittedly a very picky eater w the pallet of an 8yo, but seriously, also extremely easy to do - like I can live off eggs bread and cheese for a remarkably long time).

Anyways - I have still failed to find my dream escape, but Jill suggested a spa day and found a spa with a silent area.  Awesome!   Based off the Scandinavian (I think!) concept of hot, cold, relax this spa had hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and rock beds for hot, cold tubs (really cold - like 7deg c; genuinely felt like stepping into an ice bath), and relaxation areas.   The way it was laid out, about 2/3 of the area was social - you could chat all you want.  And people were, in multiple languages :).  The other 1/3 was very clearly signed everywhere “silence is golden”.   There are no cell phones permitted past the change rooms.  Win.

Figured it'd be easier to explain by just sharing the map ;)

I’ve been pretty stressed at work lately and working a ton of extra hours, so was pleased to have a relaxation day.   Even more pleased when I saw it was supposed to be 25 deg and sunny.  Win!   It was cold and rainy last week.  

So we got there - Vetta Spa, for the curious - the place is gorgeous and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, although I definitely heard the occasional train in the distance.  You’re given a wristband that both works your locker and is tied to your CC in case you want to buy anything lol.   The lockers were a royal pain to open and close - there was a real knack to it that I never mastered.  Concept was brilliant, execution not so much.  That’s pretty much the only negative though.   Lots of staff around and every single one of them I spoke to was friendly and positive; whoever is in charge of hiring is doing something right.

We started in the talking zones till we figured stuff out, and also cause we haven’t seen each other in a while so talking is fun :).  Hot tubs were hot - we lasted about 10 of the recommended 20 mins.  Cold tubs were painful.  The first time I’m not sure I made it past ankle deep about 3 seconds (the suggestion is 30s-3 mins).  There was another woman sitting on the bench calm as could be as though it was perfectly lovely.  She is my hero.   There were a large number of people through the day who completely committed to the cold - would go all the way in and dunk their heads.   I only ever got as far as my knees.  Jill did more of them than I and got to her waist.  Others told us it gets easier w practice.   It did seem like the body parts that got dunked legit felt better after, but not at the time for sure!

After the first dunk we chose hammocks as our warm.   It wasn’t yet quite warm and she-who’s-always-cold had a towel blanket for a bit although J was fine without.  But lying down it got warm quickly as you really didn’t feel the breeze.   So we lay and chatted for a while which was lovely.

Next round we tried the steam room.  Walking in it was nearly impossible to breathe - both of us instinctively covered our mouth and nose to make a space for the air to cool till we adjusted.  It felt like the hot equivalent of when you walk outside in -30 and the air freezes your lungs.   

Anyways, within seconds the sweat was pouring off.   I don’t like saunas in general but for some reason the steam room actually felt good?   I genuinely don’t know why, but I would definitely do it again.   Except I was having real issues w my contact lens in there so after a couple mins I bailed to save it.

Cold is always water so that was the same throughout.

Then we hit up a different set of hammocks lol, working our way around.   There were lots of other “warm” options including reading rooms (this place is open in winter too), Muskoka chairs around a fire, lounge chairs, etc

Jill wanted to go get some more water, so I stayed at the hammocks.  Related squirrel moment - Have I mentioned I’d had less than 3h sleep the night before?   Literally, not exaggerating.  And I drove because I’m the only one w a transponder (for those not in GTA - our one and only toll route is wildly expensive, esp at rush hour, but less so with a transponder).  So apparently by this point I was pretty tired.   And while J was gone, I fell very asleep.  When she got back she woke me up long enough to tell me she’d brought me water too and was going to explore the sauna. All good. I decided I’d stay and read and suggested she come back when she’d finished her next hot/cold adventure.

Here’s where I f’d up.  I didn’t even open my book.  I was asleep, and I mean *really* asleep, in seconds.   J did her thing and came back and knowing how exhausted I was and the whole point of being there was to relax, let me sleep.  Because A, she is an awesome human, and B, she doesn’t need me to entertain her.  She read a bit, did another lap of hot and cold, read a bit more, and I woke up an entirely new human.  Felt wonderful and also amazed (usually I’m the lightest sleeper on the planet - it’s a royal pita).  

And off we went in search of the stone bed.  We’d heard it was great for being a lizard lol and we’re both a little confused as to what it actually was.  But this was also in the silent area so seemed a good time to go there now that we kinda got how it all worked.  Well it was basically a room of heated stone beds, and it was pretty much heaven.   Felt like when you lie down on a hot deck after getting out of the just-a-bit-too-chilly lake.  And I promptly fell asleep again lol.  To be fair, this time J did too!

When I woke up I could feel all the signs of too much heat, so got out v fast.  Fortunately there was a cold pool a couple feet away.  That’s the one I made it the farthest into and it definitely pretty instantly reversed all the panicky “too hot” alarms going off in my body.   Then went over to a firepit in the silent area and read for a bit.   J got in another cycle while I was reading (she was targeting trying every option once while I was not interested in any of the saunas).

Anyways, we were starting to head back and I figured one last hot tub.  This is when I started to understand my fuck-up.   I stepped into the tub and just about screamed.  It felt like it was burning.  But all the tubs are within the same temp as each other.  Right.  It wasn’t too hot - I was.   It’s May.  In Canada.   My body hasn’t seen sunlight in months.  Sunscreen somehow didn’t occur to me.  And I slept, in the afternoon sun, unprotected, for hours.  Fuck.   

J wanted to do the salt scrub room (supposed to be the last thing you do before you leave) but A - I really wasn’t interested in more steam/sauna and B - I was beginning to think salt was going to feel the opposite of good on my skin :(

So we agreed to meet at the warm pool - one pool that’s an actual comfortable sitting temp and has a waterfall (those who know me will understand how much of a draw that is).   Well it was fine even with my slightly toasted skin and I went and sat behind the waterfall which was almost as heavenly as the stone bed given the cooler spray, the sound drowning the noise of people, and the sun shining through the water.  Kinda lovely.   

But more sun wasn’t what I needed, so I moved to a shady area till Jill was done her last adventure.   She also went and explored the falls before we decided to pack it up and head home.   In the change room, I saw the first signs of how badly I’d fucked up.  I was red.  Really angry red.  Pretty much everywhere.  And not the kind of “oops” red that fades the next day either.

Sure enough, today is that next day.  I can’t remember ever having been so badly burnt.   So incredibly unpleasant.   Thank god it was warm out so I could wear light and soft clothing.  Even my hands and feet are burnt.  And my armpits?!?!   I clearly was sleeping w my arms over my head - which I do, so not surprising but…. Ow.   So much ow.

I often say stupid should hurt.  This time it did.   But other than that it was a lovely day :)

Introducing Bumbling Bob, who may well take over the world some day

I mean, arguably the crowd on the right is going to improve it for the person on the left...

So I’ve been playing w Chat GPT for a while now - just the free text version so can’t do anything cool w art or anything. And I’m coming to think of it as an eager but super green assistant lol.  Like it kinda gets the point of the ask but needs some help to get to the answer.

At first I was just asking random stuff like you would in Google - I hadn’t yet figured out the difference.  Then I was chatting w someone who needed info on moving health care from BC to ON but was swamped and stressed and it was just one thing too many.  So I figured I had a few minutes one evening and would try to find it for her.  But, let’s be honest, navigating Canadian government websites is kinda the opposite of fun lol.   So cue Bob.

Squirrel intermission:  Why Bob?   Well I asked ChatGPT what human name it wanted to be called and it told me it didn’t have an opinion but most people called it ChatGPT or ChatBot - so Bot became Bob until I get a better idea.   I also asked it what a good name would be for AI and its answer started with “AI systems are generally not sentient…”. Generally?!?!   Wtf??? 

So…. I pushed that one too and asked if there are any sentient AIs?   Full answer here - the last paragraph was moderately terrifying:

As an AI language model, I can provide an answer based on the current state of technology and knowledge. To the best of my knowledge, there are no fully sentient AI systems currently in existence. While AI has made significant progress in recent years, all AI systems to date are still fundamentally based on algorithms and lack the self-awareness and consciousness that are often associated with sentience.

While some AI systems may be able to simulate human-like behavior or respond in ways that seem intelligent, they are ultimately still governed by the rules and limitations of their programming. Additionally, the idea of sentient AI raises a host of ethical and philosophical questions that are still being debated by experts in the field.

It's worth noting, however, that AI technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and there is always the possibility that a truly sentient AI system could be developed in the future.

Right….  Okay so until we get there, let’s go back to Bumbling Bob our eager but only mostly useful student assistant.

I asked Bob to solve my info about moving health care and he was about 90% right.  The only thing that was wrong was he mentioned a three-month waiting period in Ontario that is out of date as there is no longer any waiting period.  The rest was all good and it definitely saved me some time even though I still spent time verifying.   

And that’s a sign of how I see a ton of jobs changing as this tech becomes more effective- we’ll need people who can think critically and evaluate the info given (which we all know is a shortage atm!) and also who can ask questions in an effective way to get useful answers from an AI.  Eg - programming may not be a career 10 years from now but being able to convey what should be programmed could be.   Honestly, if that had been an option in my undergrad days I might’ve actually used that CS degree lol.

Anyways - another example of asking the right question was today.   I needed a title for a new project at work.  I’d been bouncing ideas around w some friends and colleagues and not found *quite* the right idea.  

So I was about to start randomly googling this and legit considering asking my actual coop student if she had time to put some effort in, but I didn’t want to distract her from her actual work so then I remembered Bob.   And Bob’s first answer came up completely correct and completely inappropriate lol

A good word that starts with L and means thoughts, ideas, musings, etc. is "lucubration". It refers to the act of studying or writing something with great care or deep thought, especially during the night. It can also mean a piece of writing that is the result of such an effort.

And, like many enthusiastic yet green, when I explained why I couldn’t use that one, Bob performed pretty closely to my usual interns lok

What I told it: “Lubrication has too many sexual connotations, what’s one I can use in an office context?”

It failed to connect that question to the previous request and instead I got that Lubricant is a better word than Lubrication to use in an office context.   Lol thanks Bob.  Again - technically correct, practically useless.

So, as with my students, I took a deep breath and considered how to reposition the question in a way to set them (and therefore me) up for success.   And got *almost* there:

An okay start, but not quite right

So the first one could work but the focus of the blog isn’t actually lessons so close but not quite.   I asked for more, honestly wasn’t expecting much, and got:

lol I wasn't actually expecting the "any other suggestions" to work!

Win!   My personal favourite is actually journey which does not alliterate at all but fits, except that the blog is not actually about a journey so moving on, Lab for the win.   Labs are a hot thing at work these days, suggest evolution and learning, bite sized pieces, AND collaboration which opens the door to suckering (ummmm I mean “inviting”) others to post stuff.   Win.

So my new take is with AI as the worker bee and people as the thinkers and decision makers.   The issue is, how do you get people to be capable thinkers and decision makers without ever being worker bees, and how do you ensure ongoing viable work for all the people who are currently worker bees and have neither interest nor ability to be thinkers / planners / or decision makers….  Those smarter than I will need to figure that out.  I just hope it’s not Bob’s granddaughter who does.